Go West (song)

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"Go West"
Single by Village People
from the album Go West
B-side "Citizens of the World"
Released 1979
Format 7", 12"
Recorded 1978
Genre Disco
Length 4:11
Label Casablanca
Writer(s) Jacques Morali, Henri Belolo, Victor Willis
Producer(s) Morali
Village People singles chronology
"Go West"
"In the Navy"

"Go West" is a song by the 1970s disco group Village People. The song eventually found greater success when it was covered in 1993 by the synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys. Original Village People lead singer Victor Willis, Henri Belolo and Jacques Morali are credited as the song's writers, although Willis disputes Belolo's involvement.[1]

Village People version[edit]

Originally released as a single in 1979, it was not as popular as the group's other contemporary singles such as "Y.M.C.A." and "In the Navy". The song's title is attributed to the nineteenth century quote "Go West, young man" commonly attributed to Horace Greeley, a rallying cry for the colonization of the American West; though Victor Willis denies writing the song with a gay theme in mind, "Go West" is generally understood as an expression of the 1970s sentiment of San Francisco as a utopia for the Gay Liberation movement.[2]

Both the 7" and 12" versions of the song were subsequently collected in various greatest hits collections, including a 1997 radio remix which was made in the wake of the success of Pet Shop Boys' 1993 version.

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1979) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 45
Canadian RPM Top Singles 41
Dutch Singles Chart 29
UK Singles Chart 15
Irish Singles Chart[3] 15

Pet Shop Boys version[edit]

"Go West"
Single by Pet Shop Boys
from the album Very
B-side "Shameless"
Released 6 September 1993
Format 7", 12", cassette, CD
Recorded 1992–1993
Length 5:03
Label Parlophone / EMI
Writer(s) Morali, Belolo, Willis, Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe
Producer(s) Pet Shop Boys, Brothers in Rhythm
Pet Shop Boys singles chronology
"Can You Forgive Her?"
"Go West"
"I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing"


In 1992, when Pet Shop Boys were asked by Derek Jarman to perform at an AIDS charity event at The Haçienda nightclub in Manchester, Chris Lowe of the duo selected "Go West" as the song they would perform. Though singer Neil Tennant was unable to remember the lyrics during that performance, the two decided to record it as a single.[4]

The original single version of the song, set for an earlier release in 1992 as a non-album single, was never used. However, both its extended dance mix, and its similarly unreleased B-side "Forever in Love" (an edited version was released on Very Relentless in 1993), were eventually released on the 2001 expanded reissue of Very; its 7" mix also was mistakenly placed on the 2009 compilation Party.[citation needed] Instead, the song was released in a different version in 1993, as the second single from Very, and featuring a different B-side, "Shameless". This release included remixes by Brothers in Rhythm, Farley & Heller, Kevin Saunderson, and Mark Stent. The single went to number two in the United Kingdom and number one in Germany; in both countries, it was Pet Shop Boys' biggest hit of the 1990s.[citation needed] The single also reached #1 in Ireland, the last of the duo's four Irish #1 singles to date.


The new version enhances the basis of the original's chord progression in Pachelbel's Canon, bringing the theme to the forefront at the opening of the song.[4] In addition to the Canon elements, it included a new introduction which Lowe later said "does sound surprisingly like the former Soviet anthem".[5] The song also underwent extensive reworking of its instrumental tracks, with producers Stephen Hague and Mark Stent credited for the mixing, as well as an all-male Broadway choir arranged by Richard Niles (said by Tennant to be inspired by the song "There Is Nothing Like a Dame" from the Broadway musical South Pacific).[4] In addition, Tennant and Lowe wrote a new verse for the song, with the lyrics:

There where the air is free
we'll be what we want to be
Now if we make a stand
we'll find our promised land[6]


In marketing for the single, Tennant and Lowe wore uniforms with hemispheric helmets; Tennant's costume was blue, Lowe's yellow.

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Howard Greenhalgh and relies heavily on computer-generated imagery, like all of his videos for the Very singles. It begins with a red Statue of Liberty, and then depicts a grey city where the communist domination is evident on the basis of Soviet imagery (such as red stars and red flags, Yuri Gagarin Monument and Monument to the Conquerors of Space). Troops of identical Soviet men march up a staircase stretching into the clouds, seemingly toward a Western society, with the Statue of Liberty, now appearing as an African-American diva looming in the distance (played by backing-vocalist Sylvia Mason-James). Tennant and Lowe appear throughout; Tennant carries a blue-and-yellow striped arrow staff, and Lowe travels on a flying surfboard. Occasional live action shots of Soviet iconography appear; in one Tennant and Lowe appear in their costumes, walking across Red Square.

The video was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 1995, losing to "Love Is Strong" by The Rolling Stones.[7] The "Go West" costumes were parodied in the video for their later 2006 single, "I'm with Stupid".)[8]

Cover versions[edit]

The Swedish PSB cover band West End Girls released their version of the song in January 2006. In 2007, classical singer Rhydian performed the song on The X Factor, surrounded by men in sailor outfits.

Remixed Eurodance versions of the song have appeared on the Dancemania series albums, including Dancemania SPEED 4 issued in 2000.[9]

Clubringer covered the song in 2003 with a trance CD single released in Poland. 4 versions of the song were created.

British comedy band The Wurzels covered the song on their 2010 album A Load More Bullocks.[10]

Osem, the Israeli food giant, created a commercial for its ketchup based on the Pet Shop boys video clip and song version a short time after the single was released.

German metal band J.B.O. covered the song on their 1997 Album laut (loud), entitled Ein Fest (a party), mocking the song.

Track listing[edit]

7": Parlophone / R 6356 (UK)[edit]

A. "Go West" – 5:03

B. "Shameless" – 5:04

12": Parlophone / 12R 6356 (UK)[edit]

A. "Go West" (Mings Gone West: First and Second Movement) – 10:12

B1. "Go West" (Farley and Heller Disco Mix) – 6:01

B2. "Go West" (Kevin Saunderson Tribe Mix) – 6:50

CD: Parlophone / CDR 6356 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Go West" – 5:03
  2. "Shameless" – 5:04
  3. "Go West" (Ming's Gone West: First and Second Movement) – 10:12

CD: EMI / E2-58084 (US)[edit]

  1. "Go West" – 5:03
  2. "Shameless" – 5:04
  3. "Go West" (Ming's Gone West: First and Second Movement) – 10:12
  4. "Go West" (Farley and Heller Disco Mix) – 6:01
  5. "Go West" (Farley and Heller Fire Island Mix) – 7:42
  6. "Go West" (Kevin Saunderson Tribe Mix) – 6:50
  7. "Go West" (Kevin Saunderson Trance Mix) – 6:53

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1993) Peak
Germany 1
Ireland 1
Israel 1
Austria 2
France 2
Italy 7
Japan[11] 9
Spain (AFYVE)[12] 4
Sweden 2
Switzerland 2
UK 2
Netherlands 3
Norway 5
Australia 10
New Zealand 46
Canadian Dance/Urban Singles Chart[13] 8

In culture[edit]

Pet Shop Boys' version of "Go West" has been adopted by football and hockey fans of some countries, including the United Kingdom and France, for chants. Arsenal were the first to begin chanting this at half time in the Cup Winners semi-final in 1994 against Paris St. Germain, where they led 1-0 at half time. The DJ at the stadium played the Pet Shop Boys version which prompted the whole Arsenal end to sing '1-0 to the Arsenal': a chant which has become synonymous with the club since. Fans also use it to insult other clubs, particularly arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the chant "stand up, if you hate Tottenham."

It is used by fans of many clubs such as West Bromwich Albion chant "Go West Bromwich Albion" and the Liverpool F.C "Gérard Houllier" song. The song is sung by fans of Norwich City: "Come on, let's be 'avin' ya". These were the words repeatedly bellowed across the stadium in 2005 by Delia Smith, reputed to have put over £12 million of her own money into the club over the years and (on that particular occasion) being somewhat overcome by pre-match hospitality. In May 2011 Norwich City returned to the Premiership; once again an emotional Smith addressed the jubilant fans, who responded with the song.

The song provided the inspiration for "Hymne du PSG", the team song of Paris Saint-Germain F.C., where the refrain is "Allez, Paris Saint-Germain". It is used by club Leeds United A.F.C to the words "Stand up, if you hate Man U" in reference to their rivals, Manchester United F.C. This has been adopted by many other clubs and even audited by the Leeds' fans themselves, to such variations as "Shoes off, if you hate Man U" amongst others.

An orchestral version was adopted by FIFA as the official theme of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. "Stand Up! (Champions Theme)" played inside stadiums after every match of the tournament and is sung by Patrizio Buanne. The music has also been adapted for a chant for South Korea's national football team and could often be heard when Korea played during the 2002 and 2006 World Cup games. In some Dutch and Belgian stadiums, the song is sung by supporters of the winning side, with lyrics: 't is stil aan de overkant (it's quiet on the other side). In 2010, SK Telecom in South Korea had girl groups 4minute and Brown Eyed Girls record a version with lyrics as a cheer song for South Korea in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.[14]

When suspected serial killer Fred West committed suicide, some football fans turned the song into a send up of him. The song is also used to taunt supporters of teams from the west country such as Torquay United, Exeter City, Plymouth Argyle and Yeovil Town where the words are changed to 'Go west where the football's crap'.

In the 1994 Australian film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the Village People recording is played on the soundtrack as the three main characters take to the road. It features as a musical number in the adaptation Priscilla Queen of the Desert – the Musical.

In the 2004 German film Summer Storm, the song is played during the rowing competition at the end . It is performed by the Sound City Girls.

"Go West" is one of the songs in the North American home version of Dance Dance Revolution EXTREME, as well as its European counterpart, Dancing Stage Fusion.

In Western Australia throughout the 1990s "Go West" was the tune and face of BankWest used on their TV ads.

To the tune of "Go West", Sharwoods, a brand of curry sauces made a tune called "Go East" with the lyrics "Go east... Chinese, Indian, Thai."

The tune was used in an advertising campaign during in 1998–99 for Ambrosia Creamed Rice to the lyrics "Oooh Arghhh, it's Ambrosia," sung by a man with a west country accent whilst riding a cow.

On 15 April 2009, during the memorial service at Liverpool FC's Anfield Stadium for the twentieth anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, Liverpool fans used this tune to chant 'Justice for the 96', a reference to the unresolved controversy surrounding the policing of the football match where 96 Liverpool fans died.

In rugby union, Ulster fans have adapted the song to read "Stand up for the Ulstermen" albeit in a strong northern Irish accent.

The SSC Napoli Italian football club adopted the Pet Shop Boys' version; it is sung every time the team enters in the field.

In May 2011, Chris Moyles admitted the song was a 'guilty pleasure' of his and started a campaign for the song to re-enter the charts.

A similar version which changes the lyrics to "Olé, jetzt kommt der BVB" (Olé, here comes the BVB) is played when Borussia Dortmund scores a goal at the Signal Iduna Park.

FC Schalke fans have adopted the song, changing the lyrics to "Steht auf, wenn ihr Schalker seid" (Stand up if you are Schalke).

Sevilla FC fans also use the main verse, adapting the lyrics as "Oé Forza Sevilla oé".

Lillestrøm SK fans uses this song when the team is leading against their opponents, changing the lyrics to "reis opp, hvis du er Lillestrøm" (Stand up, if you are Lillestrøm), with the seated audience responding by standing up, chanting and clapping to the phrase "Lillestrøm" and then clapping three times.

Copyright lawsuit[edit]

On May 7, 2012, publishers Can't Stop Productions and Scorpio Music, failed in their attempt to prevent "Go West" and other Village People hits written by Victor Willis from reverting to Willis as scheduled starting in 2013. In an historic ruling, Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California ruled that Willis can in fact terminate his copyrights granted to the publishers because "a joint author who separately transfers his copyright interest may unilaterally terminate the grant." [15] In response to the ruling, Willis stated "I am just looking forward to having control of it,"Go West" [16] So as it currently stands, in 2013 at a minimum, Victor Willis per the court order will own (recapture) 33% of "Go West" and other Village People hits. However, his percentage of ownership may increase to 50% if the songs were only written by Victor Willis and Jacques Morali, not Henri Belolo. In fact, Brian Caplan, Willis' lawyer stated that he is confident they will prove at trial that Henri Belolo didn’t write any of the lyrics to "Go West" [1] Judge Moskowitz has granted the publishers Can't Stop Productions and Scorpio Music, 30 days to amend their complaint to argue why Willis should not be allowed to provide evidence that Henri Belolo was not one of the writers of "Go West" and other Village People hits.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Pettersson, Edvard (2012-05-08). "Village People Motorcycle Cop Wins ‘YMCA’ Copyright Case". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  2. ^ O'Donovan, Connell (June 1999). "Go West - This is Our Destiny". Connell O'Donovan's Home Page. Archived from the original on 20 March 2005. Retrieved 27 April 2007. 
  3. ^ "The Irish Charts – All There Is To Know". Irish Recorded Music Association. Irishcharts.com. 1979-01-22. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  4. ^ a b c "Interviews - Very Go West". Pet Shop Boys unofficial website. Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  5. ^ Liner notes from 2001 CD reissue.
  6. ^ "Go West (lyrics)". Pet Shop Boys official website. Retrieved 3 April 2010. 
  7. ^ "Past Winners Database: 1994 37th Grammy Awards". The Envelope: The Ultimate Awards Site (Los Angeles Times). Archived from the original on 17 October 2006. Retrieved 28 October 2006. 
  8. ^ "The new video: exclusive tonight". Pet Shop Boys official website news. 14 April 2006. Retrieved 21 May 2006. 
  9. ^ Discogs, Dancemania Speed 4
  10. ^ "Wurzel World - Shop". Thewurzels.com. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  11. ^ Oricon artist chart info
  12. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  13. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  14. ^ "Preview of Brown Eyed Girls and 4minute's World Cup Song". allkpop.com. May 12, 2010. 
  15. ^ 2 YEARS (8 May 2012). "Village People Songwriter Victor Willis Wins Case Over Termination of 'Y.M.C.A.' Rights". Hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  16. ^ Ted Johnson Senior Editor @tedstew (2012-05-25). "Can’t stop the music rights reclamation". Variety. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 

See also[edit]


Preceded by
"Lemon" by U2
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single (Pet Shop Boys version)
18 December 1993
Succeeded by
"Tradición" by Gloria Estefan